Even though the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, rebuked rumors of him running for office, his recent actions really point towards that direction – the Oval Office. He recently hired a pollster, visited a Detroit auto plant and other swing-state locations. He even went on and gave a high-profile commencement speech.
And all of that would be no problem if the Facebook hadn’t been involved in election ads scandal. Zuckerberg’s company recently admitted that various Russian accounts purchased over $100,000 worth of political ads in 2015 and 2016. And this piece of information was revealed only after they once before rejected expanding on the accusation.
That’s why many Americans doubted whether Russians had something to do with Trump’s win and now everyone fears that this power of Facebook might once again be used for someone’s run for the presidency. People demand greater transparency about the way that Facebook uses its algorithms and advertising features for electoral influence. Imagine if Mark used this resource for his own gain.
His company is known for shifting the outcome of the election, and many have heard about the issue of the ‘fake news’ and its spread on the platform in 2016. Facebook uses various tools to promote media outlets that are against certain presidential candidates. Donald Trump claimed that they used those tools against him. Almost every single American has a Facebook account, and surely the platform can influence user’s decision when the election day comes. Of course, it is a sophisticated system, and you won’t see blatant and obvious signs that direct you towards a candidate, but you’ll probably see posts from a selected list of media outlets more often than posts of some other that root for the opposing candidate.
This kind of advertising is dangerous, and we urge Facebook to increase transparency. Candidates do not have to report their exact spending made on this social network giant, and they can instead hire a firm that will do all the work for them. Businesses, social welfare organizations and other entities do not have to disclose their Facebook spending at all, and that’s how you get misleading content and ‘fake news’ on the world’s most popular social network.
This is why Mark’s platform has to pro-actively disclose the political ads made there. We should be able to see how much money was spent, who was the one behind the payment and what audience it targeted. After all, TV stations and radio stations have to provide the so-called public inspection files that clearly provide you with an insight into who, when, where and what paid for certain ads.
With the increased transparency the spread of fake news would be limited, and some of the world’s autocratic regimes and states wouldn’t be able to promote their propaganda on Facebook. Considering how many users the Facebook has this measure has to be taken. Fiddling with results and election campaigns is a dangerous game, Mark. You are not only fiddling with the election result, but you are also fiddling with basic human rights.
All in all, folks you have to be careful when reading news online. Pick your sources and be extremely cautious when deciding who you are going to trust. Democracy may be the best governing system out there, but it is far from perfect.